The word of the year for 2020 was “unprecedented.” And, in fact, many of us are probably sick of that word and the realities of living in this unprecedented time.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we adjusted to life with face coverings, social distancing and virtual work, virtual school, virtual family gatherings — virtual everything, really. For many, it was a difficult year.
But through it all, we saw so much good in the world, even just in our little Best Buy corner of it. We saw love, kindness, generosity and perseverance. We watched as teammates rallied to support each other, families come together and employees went above and beyond for our customers. We celebrated diversity in all its forms and cheered our employees’ professional growth and personal passions.
Here’s a quick look back at some of our most inspiring stories from the past year.
A window for their words
Using face coverings was a concern for Dennis Parry, a Pennsylvania general manager who is hard of hearing and relies on reading lips to communicate with his employees and customers. Thankfully, a group of employees came together to sew up a solution: clear face coverings for Dennis and his team.
Related: Corporate employee Lynda Tysver switched from painting faces to painting windows as a way to spread joy during the pandemic, and a Michigan store participated in a drive-by parade to celebrate a tech lover’s 18th birthday.
A pair of preschool prodigies
While Devon Mouton worked at Best Buy in one state to support his family, his kids were left in great hands at grandma and grandpa’s house in another. They had a straight-A stay, learning the how-tos of household duties en route to graduating from “Hard Knock School” with honors.
Related: An Indiana store welcomed a 6-year-old boy with autism as a Best Buy employee for a day, and an Ohio store helped a 6-year-old prep his Geek Squad costume for Halloween. Plus, a Pittsburgh store fulfilled a cancer patient’s dream of a (curbside) shopping spree.
Staying close from afar
While many schools and extracurriculars were in flux because of the pandemic, teens were still searching for ways to learn, grow and be heard. So, our Best Buy Teen Tech Centers — and the coordinators who run them — stepped up to find new ways to stay connected with youth.
Related: Justin Feil had his hands full during the back-to-school season this year as he juggled his roles as high school teacher, Best Buy employee and father of five.
Something borrowed, lots of blue
They say love is patient. And in the case of Tonya and Tharun Trammel, it waited quietly on the sidelines for over a decade. In June, these two longtime co-workers tied the knot at the store that opened the door to their fairy-tale ending.
Related: Through the years, Jacob Carroll has grown professionally — and he’s grown his family, too. In 2020, he took advantage of Best Buy’s Caregiver Pay benefit to enjoy some paid time off to bond with his newborn son.
Happily ever after, at last
Prince Moyo spent months wishing he was with his fiancé and son who were living in South Africa. After a lengthy visa application process, their dream of being together finally came true. And his Best Buy family at our Flower Mound, Texas, distribution center was there for him every step of the way.
Related: Erick Rodriguez felt helpless when earthquakes rocked Puerto Rico earlier this year. Then Best Buy and his co-workers at our Medford, Oregon, store rallied together to send him home to see his family for a week.
Braving the storm
In March, a tornado flattened our Jonesboro, Arkansas, store in a matter of seconds while 17 employees and two customers sheltered inside. It was a terrifying experience, but they all walked away unharmed.
Related: When our Lake Charles, Louisiana, store was destroyed by a hurricane, the team came together to support relief efforts in the community. We also shared the story of GreatCall employee Kevin Arlinghaus, who was hailed as a hero after saving neighbors from a fire.
Tech rescue from a distance
When one of Damion Santos’ customers needed help with their home network early in the pandemic, he was determined to help — even if he couldn’t go inside the home. So, he helped troubleshoot the problem from the driveway.
Related: When a customer mistakenly traded in the wrong laptop, some very determined and customer-focused Best Buy employees helped track it down at a distribution center more than 100 miles away.
Tech-savvy senior spreads joy
With help from a couple of Geek Squad Agents, 91-year-old Herb Williams found a way to share his piano playing with the world via social media. Now he’s championing technology with seniors and delighting folks along the way.
Related: Geek Squad Manager Kelvin Tolston restored a 98-year-old World War II vet’s connection to the world by helping get her device working again, and Best Buy Canada teamed with Google to donate connected devices to more than 300 senior living residences across Canada.
A simple act of kindness
When a Louisiana customer was a few bucks short for a purchase, store associate Kentrell Balthazar wowed her with three simple words: “I’ve got it.” Sure enough, he took out his wallet and paid for it himself.
Related: After Abdallah Moukhtar died last September, his mom donated his collection of 1,100 Funko Pops! to a charity that gives them to children’s hospitals. And it just so happened that the man who runs the organization works at Best Buy — just like Abdallah had.
Celebration with a dose of education
Quest Dew has been sharing his passion for — and knowledge of — Juneteenth with his colleagues at Best Buy’s Seattle Technology Office for years. It took on added meaning this year after the high-profile deaths of Black Americans highlighted police brutality and social injustice, leading to protests and unrest around the country.
Related: On Caitlin Waugh’s second day as general manager of a Best Buy store in Portland, Oregon, one of her employees told her they wanted to take their own life. Now the fitness buff is focused on her team’s mental health.
She’s flipping the script
Molly Hayes was once told she was “too pretty” to work in tech. Now, she’s a software engineer at Best Buy and determined to help other young women enter STEM careers.
Related: Growing up in the Bronx, Kufre “Archie” Mbatt didn’t see many leaders who looked like him. Now, he’s setting the example for others as a Best Buy general manager and recent recipient of a master’s degree. We also shared the story of Stephanie Jackson and the growing number of women who have developed successful careers as leaders in Best Buy’s supply chain network.
A dream come true
Justin Howell’s mom used to complain about how much time he spent playing video games. Now’s he’s making a career out of it. Justin, AKA “Just Awkward,” traded in his Best Buy blue shirt this year after getting drafted to play NBA 2K professionally.
Related: As many people struggled with how to remain socially connected during a time of social distancing, Phillip England and his fellow video game enthusiasts found solace in the fictional worlds — and real-life connections — of online gaming.
Kaylie Brazil contributed to this article.